Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
At 10.30 am on Saturday 24 April 1993, the IRA detonated a bomb in a tipper truck loaded with almost a ton of fertiliser, parked right outside St Ethelburga’s Church, Bishopsgate in the centre of London. One person was killed and 40 others injured. The structural damage in the area was extensive, indeed, 70% of St Ethelburga’s was destroyed. Nearly seven hundred and fifty years of Christian worship on the site came to an end that day. However, it was the vision of Bishop Richard Chartres, the then Bishop of London, that it be rebuilt and serve a different function. In 2002 the new Centre for Reconciliation and Peace commenced its work in the rebuilt premises. St Ethelburga’s is a maker of peace-makers with the aim of inspiring and equipping people from all backgrounds to become peace-builders in their own communities and lives.
Their latest project is ‘Reconcilers Together’; an ecumenical network of Christian organisations across the UK and Ireland. Five centres across the UK, all organisations actively transforming conflict from broken relationships to community divisions to issues of injustice, have come together for this exciting project. The shared mission is to inspire and equip Christian leaders to be a reconciling presence in their churches and communities. The focal point of the network will be a fully funded training programme for 20 Christian leaders called Journey of Hope which will run from January to June 2019.
Prayerful spiritual discernment tells me that I am too old to train as a leader and then to set up and lead a new project like this. However, in his endorsement Right Revd Justin Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury says: ‘Reconciliation is poured into the church in such lavish quantities by the Spirit of God that it overflows into the world around us. We are called to be not only reconciled, but reconcilers.’ He goes on to remind us of St Paul’s words: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. So we all do have a part to play. As Christians the ministry of reconciliation – to ourselves, to God, to creation, and to others – must be central to living out the gospel.
Please look at the website https://www.reconcilerstogether.co.uk/ to learn more about the project and support this worthwhile venture in any way you can. Pray for all those involved, and join with me in the prayer attributed to St Francis: Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Together we can make a difference.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years